Jim Larranaga and members of the 2006 Final Four team were honored in a celebration hosted on campus last week. Here is a video recap of the event:
Lot of coverage this week on the 10th anniversary of George Mason’s Final Four run in 2006. Has it been that long? Definitely has a special place in my heart as I started this site that August after it happened. There’s a great in-depth look from Matt Norlander of CBS that is definitely worth your time and shares a lot tidbits that most people don’t know. Also the Washington Post has a great video:
Jim Larranaga and his Miami team will be practicing at George Mason to prep before the ACC tournament. Will they scrimmage our guys?
“GMU will be one of the most experienced teams in the Colonial Athletic Association next season, and the coaching styles of Hewitt and Larranaga are on different ends of the spectrum. For example, the Patriots have rarely depended on their bench; last season, only six players were on the floor for more than 50 percent of Mason’s minutes played. According to Ken Pomeroy’s metrics, Mason’s bench was underused. (It’s worth pointing out that so was every bench in the CAA; after Georgia State and William & Mary, the drop-off was pretty severe.) With Hewitt at the helm, Georgia Tech was known for its hockey-style substitution patterns. Besides Glen Rice, Iman Shumpert and Brian Oliver, the rest of the Yellow Jackets saw a fairly even number of minutes, and their bench enjoyed one of the highest percentage of minutes played in the nation. Ask senior Ryan Pearson, though, and the forward suggests that Mason needed a change.
“Coach Larranaga had a six- or seven-man rotation, and I didn’t think it was good — but we did win 27 games, so it worked for us,” Pearson says. “We have 10 guys who can play, and it’ll make guys happier that when they kill in practice, they then actually get to play.”
“At the moment, it’s unclear what the rotation will be, but senior Andre Cornelius probably will start at the point. The potential surprise could be sophomore Bryon Allen, who averaged 5.8 minutes per game last season. “I’ve been working a lot with Bryon, and he’s been doing a good job of working on his shot. With his size, he can play the 1 or the 2, get in the lane and create,” Wright says. If Hewitt decides to go with a more guard-heavy lineup, a backcourt of Wright, Allen and Cornelius could cause some interesting matchup problems.”
|Chart by Halcyon Hoops|
Also here is a little piece of that Mike Wise article about Coach L’s departure that the SB Nation highlighted and I think everyone should read:
“Mason could’ve done more.
Did you know VCU is spreading $150,000 among Smart’s three assistant coaches, who already make about $300,000 between them, because they understand what it takes to keep their young, hot coach to stay in Richmond?”
Sure money wasn’t the only reason Larranaga left. He always wanted to coach in the ACC, has siblings in Florida, a house there already, and you can’t blame his wife for wanting to spend their later years away from those Northern Virginia winters.
Now we look to who will be the next head coach at George Mason. Unlike in 1997 when Larranaga was inheriting a basement CAA team, a new coach here would take on a team that could be receiving some Top 25 votes in the early weeks. The position seems pretty open and really anyone could be a candidate at this point. I’ve already speculated Bill Courtney but remember he’s only been at Cornell as a head coach for one season. He might want to see what he can do there before taking on something else and at this point I’m not even sure if the school has contacted him. The Washington Examiner posted this Top 5 list over the weekend:
5. Jim Baron » The last basketball coach O’Connor hired before Larranaga was Baron in 1992, when O’Connor was the AD at St. Bonaventure. Baron has six 20-win seasons in 10 years at Rhode Island but no NCAA appearances. At 57, is he too old and too settled?
4. Jim Ferry » The 43-year-old took run-and-gun Long Island to the NCAA tournament with two local standouts — Springbrook grads C.J. Garner and Jamal Olasewere. But does O’Connor have bad memories of uptempo basketball after inheriting Paul Westhead when he took over at George Mason in 1994?
3. Mike Rhoades » If Shaka Smart had left VCU, the Rams would have been comfortable promoting his 36-year-old assistant, who posted a 197-76 mark in 10 seasons at Randolph-Macon.
2. Bill Courtney » The 40-year-old former player at Robert E. Lee High and current coach at Cornell served eight seasons under Larranaga, recruiting many of the players from the Patriots’ 2006 Final Four team. Big question: Does O’Connor want a Larranaga disciple?
1. Mike Lonergan » In six seasons, the 45-year-old has taken Vermont to the NCAA once, CBI once and NIT twice. Lonergan has plenty of local ties, playing at Archbishop Carroll, playing and coaching at Catholic and working as an assistant at Maryland. George Mason is a logical next step.
Mike Lonergan seems like the most logical choice at this point because of this area ties and track record. Apparently a radio station in the Vermont area says he’s a finalist for the George Mason job. However the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan said this morning that Lonergan has yet to be contacted by George Mason. Perhaps this could be happening this week. One name not on that list is American head coach Jeff Jones who also played and coached at UVA. He’s really brought up the program at American and has experience talking teams to the NCAA tournament.
We could very well be hearing some new names this week because at this point it’s all speculation by fans and the the media.
|Photo by John Powell|
-Chris Caputo interviewed for assistant coach jobs with Kentucky and Florida
-Mike Huger interviewed with Villanova
-Eric Konkol interviewed at a Division III school
Also regarding the 2011 incoming freshmen it seems that both Corey Edwards and Vaughn Gray are undecided about if they will still be coming to George Mason. They both are waiting to see who the new head coach is before making a final decision.
[Source: Steven Goff]
Update: The latest from the Post:
“However, a source close to the team said Courtney would be a long shot to get the job, at best.
Another possibility is Vermont Coach Mike Lonergan, a former assistant at Maryland and former head coach at Catholic, where he led the Cardinals to the 2001 Division III national championship. Lonergan was born in Silver Spring and raised in Bowie, and he attended Archbishop Carroll High School.
American Coach Jeff Jones and Virginia Commonwealth assistant Mike Rhoads are also seen by some as possible candidates.”
The news came as a bit of a shock to the Mason nation yesterday. I certainly didn’t see this coming, especially after Larranaga turned down the Providence job for the 2nd time. The move is a little puzzling to the college basketball community because the University of Miami isn’t exactly a better coaching job despite being an ACC opportunity. Larranaga is leaving behind a potential Top 30 team in next year’s Patriots and at 61 is taking on the task of rebuilding a struggling ACC program.
Almost every member of the seems to be scratching their head as to why now and why Miami. He’s had opportunities to coach in power conferences before at much more established programs. The Miami job is arguably the worst one in the ACC in terms of program support and fan attendance. Does he really care that much about newer facilities at this stage of his career? Perhaps the move is strictly about money.
This whole speaks to the George Mason administration. Gary Parrish said “it got nasty between Jim and athletic director Tom O’Connor at the end. Both egos played a role”. Larranaga has talked about resources before in his career and it was the reason he left Bowling Green for Fairfax back in 1997. He’s resources were being cut there and who knows if something like that is happening here. For instance where is the basketball practice facility the school talked about almost two and half years ago? I wouldn’t be surprised if Larranaga was promised things back in 2006 and then again in 2008 that didn’t quite materialize. There was a clause in his contract that stated the school would spend $150K a year to promote the of the program. Aside from a funny cartoon YouTube that went semi-viral I’d love to see how exactly that money was spent.
In the end it’s about getting paid. Larranaga is at the end of his career and just saw a 2nd year fellow CAA coach get $500K more in annual base salary then him after doing exactly what he did in 2006. It’s not about winning, he has done that already it’s about him doubling his salary when he has the opportunity. People will say he’s looking for a challenge, as if bringing George Mason out of the basement of the CAA wasn’t enough of a daunting task especially when you think of what this program was like back in 1997.
Larranaga is responsible for the George Mason program you now see that will most likely be a Top 30 team unless a bunch of guys transfer. The program obtained some brand recognition over the last couple of years and he really built something great here in Fairfax. It’s sad to seem him go as he has been the face of George Mason basketball but this was going to happen sooner or later. The head coaching job at Mason is now one of the most coveted currently available so at least we aren’t searching for a new coach during a rebuilding process.